RE-sources: Call and Response: Journeys in UU Lifespan Faith Development

Women Shaping UU History

By Susan Lawrence

In 1980, when President Jimmy Carter proclaimed the week of March 8 as National Women's History Week (now Month), he said, "Too often the women were unsung and sometimes their contributions went unnoticed. But the achievements, leadership, courage, strength and love of the women who built America were as vital as those of the men whose names we know so well."

The proclamation responded to a need and a clamor to lift up women's names. The women's liberation movement of the 1960s and '70s had raised the visibility of women as half the fabric of daily life and as important leaders and innovators. Expanding roles for women outside the home had invited a vanguard generation of professional women historians to investigate and document women's roles in history. But, research from around the same time showed that in history textbooks, no more than 3% of the content talked about women.

Nowadays the Internet, local libraries, and our communities' elder women abound with stories and accomplishments to share during Women's History Month, or anytime. As UU religious educators, we have similarly abundant resources to lift up women's historic contributions to our faith. How will you honor Women's History Month, UU style, for the edification of the children, youth, and adults we serve? You will find some helpful links to stories, activities, and background information, below.

But first, read "Celebrating UU Women in History" and learn ten names worth knowing, if you do not already know them. For example, you'll meet Olympia Brown, Cecilia Payne Gaposchkin, and Margaret Moseley, achievers in, respectively, ministry, astronomy, and civil rights activism.

Happy Women's History Month!

Next Steps!

The UUA's free, online Tapestry of Faith curricula and other publications of the Faith Development Office provide many stories and activities to share that illuminate women's roles in UU history. Antoinette Brown, who, like Olympia Brown, forged new paths in ministry, is the subject of "Antoinette Brown and Olympia Brown" in the grades 2-3 program Signs of Our Faith. Also for younger children, "Harriot Kezia Hunt Making a Difference," in the Tapestry of Faith program Faithful Journeys, tells of a 19th century woman who became the first woman in the U.S. to practice medicine professionally. Clara BartonDorothea DixBeatrix Potter, and Harriet Tubman are among the other American women whose stories enhance our understanding of our faith heritage.

Explore the website of the Unitarian Universalist Women's Federation to learn about current political work to defend women's rights, and much more.

About the Author

Susan Lawrence

Susan Dana Lawrence is managing editor for the Lifespan Faith Engagement office of the UUA. She is a writer and educator who has worked in broadcast television, corporate communications, and print journalism. She belongs to Reform Jewish and Unitarian Universalist faith communities.


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